07 April 2021
Not reviewed after the date of publication
A PC decides that there is insufficient evidence to charge a suspect and that they should be released on street bail. They contact an Inspector who states that they are not prepared to authorise the granting of street bail.
Is the officer still empowered to release the prisoner without bail under Section 30A of PACE if they believe it is the right decision?
Section 30A provides the constable with the power to release a person at any time prior to arrival at a police station without bail or on bail, and if on bail, with or without conditions.
30A(1) A constable may release a person who is arrested or taken into custody in the circumstances mentioned in section 30(1) –
(a) without bail unless subsection (1A) applies, or
(b) on bail if subsection (1A) applies.
Bail must be authorised by a senior police officer (of at least the rank of inspector) or a magistrate. In order to release a person on 'street bail' as per 30A(1)(b) above, an inspector's authorisation is required under 30A(1A):
30A(1A) This subsection applies if –
(a) the constable is satisfied that releasing the person on bail is necessary and proportionate in all the circumstances (having regard, in particular, to any conditions of bail which would be imposed), and
(b) a police officer of the rank of inspector or above authorises the release on bail (having considered any representations made by the person).
If an inspector has not authorised the granting of street bail and the constable is confident it is the correct procedure, authorisation could be potentially be sought from an officer of a higher rank. Please note the legislation dictates the minimum level of compliance required and your force policy may dictate differing levels of authority in some instances. Should authorisation not be granted the officer must either release the person as per section 30A(1)(a) or subsequently present the person to custody, this will however be a decision of the arresting officer and what they consider necessary and proportionate in the circumstances. If the person is released, then force policy will probably require completion of either a custody/other type of documentation, so that the force has a record of the arrest.
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